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Ivory Coast Rebels Give President One Week to Implement Peace Accord - 2003-02-07

Rebels in Ivory Coast are warning they may resume attacks, and have given President Laurent Gbagbo a one-week ultimatum to begin implementing a peace accord.

Leaders of the main rebel group, the Patriotic Movement of Ivory Coast, said they are putting their forces on high alert and are ready to resume attacks, if President Laurent Gbagbo decides not to implement a deal reached two weeks ago.

The warning came as President Gbagbo was due to deliver a much-awaited speech, in which he is expected to announce whether he will implement the accord.

The power-sharing deal reached near Paris two weeks ago grants key government positions to rebels and opposition parties.

President Gbagbo initially accepted the agreement, but has met with almost daily and sometimes violent demonstrations by his supporters, who say it grants too many concessions to the rebels.

Among those who have spoken out against the terms of the agreement are the leaders of the Ivorian army, who have called the deal humiliating.

Officials of the Patriotic Movement of Ivory Coast on Friday said they were giving the international community one week to make Mr. Gbagbo respect the accord.

Leaders of Ivory Coast's three rebel factions met for a second day Friday in the western rebel held city of Man.

A spokesman for the MPCI, Antoine Beugre, told VOA his group's forces were ready to launch a full scale battle to gain control of the main city, Abidjan, if Mr. Gbagbo does not agree to begin full implementation of the accord. Abidjan has been under government control since the war began with a failed coup attempt in September. Since then, thousands of French troops have deployed along rebel lines and have prevented a rebel advance toward the city.